In Latin, the words “locum tenens” literally translate into “one holding the place of another”, and is a term used in the medical practice to refer to temporary, or substitute, doctors. Physicians that work as “locums” take temporary jobs at practices or hospitals of their choosing, acting as substitutes for doctors or team members going on leave. Jobs like these started to pop up more than twenty years ago and are fleeting in nature, always ending after a brief period of time. Some doctors work locum tenens full-time, while others opt to take advantage of the option to work somewhere temporarily in order to gain insight about the work environment. So what exactly can one expect from working locum tenens? Is this kind of life for you?

…..For starters, you can expect locum tenens to pay good rates right from the get go. Those qualified to perform certain procedures or tasks will be offered generally higher rates and periodic bonuses in exchange for locum tenens work, making this style of practice attractive – especially to young doctors looking to gain experience while enjoying a good salary. However, while the initial pay of being a substitute physician may be high compared to that of most regularized doctors, locum tenens work will never earn as much as experienced private practitioners (who end up being able to charge sky-high amounts for their specializations) do. This is most especially true in the case of doctors who have become partners in practices that are reaping excellent profits. 

…..Another positive point about working somewhere temporarily is that you can witness all of the office politics at a certain location without getting dragged into it. Some places of work suffer from toxic work environments and abusive workplace cultures that can make it difficult, or even impossible, to work efficiently. Some doctors agree to do locum tenens work to “scope out” a place before submitting an application, so that they can see first hand what a place is like before committing full-time. The problem with this, though, is that your purpose in a team is only to provide the medical procedures that are expected of you. You will most likely be expected to adapt to the way things are done and may receive little social interest from other team members due to the fact that you are only there for a short time. 

…..Perhaps the best thing about locum tenens work is the fact that it allows for a lot of freedom, whenever you want, without having to resign or even file for leave. You are the one who decides when you work, where you work – the elevated pay affording extended vacations, making life as a doctor just a tad bit more sustainable. This is why there are those who have decided to provide their services as substitutes on a permanent basis (despite the risks involved). If you are the type of physician that is interested in exploring your options, or perhaps just looking for adventure in your medical career, then locum tenens work might be just right for you.

…..TukkoMed is an expert in the field of medical administration. Do back-office burdens keep you from doing the more important and enjoyable part of your practice? If so, give us a call and leave the fuss to us.

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